TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Tampa Bay area attorney says he may have to live with the effects of scar tissue on his lungs for the rest of his life after testing positive for COVID-19 in January.

Bryant Camareno says his doctors cannot be sure when he was first infected with the virus. He began feeling ill in October and a test came back positive months later.

“I’m not a doctor, but from what they’ve explained, the COVID protein can stay in your system,” said “I was officially diagnosed in January and, quite candidly, my life hasn’t been the same.”

Camareno said his doctor urged him not to attend his daughter’s wedding in January but he attended anyway.

“I looked pale. I had raccoon eyes,” he said.

COVID pneumonia in both lungs left him with scar tissue which continues to cause him to cough and be short of breath, according to Camareno. He now has inhalers and has been to two pulmonologists.

“I’ve had judges tell me, ‘Mr. Camareno, I can hear you. You’re struggling to breathe. Take a break or slow down,’” he said. “I just have to learn how to control my speaking patterns. I can go walking, I just can’t go running.”

This week, Florida Department of Health Press Secretary Jeremy Redfern replied to a tweet, writing “Long COVID = anxiety.” Some on social media accused Redfern of being “dismissive.”

“The anxiety is not what caused the scar tissue in my lungs. It’s not what caused me to have pneumonia and it’s not causing me to continue to have to catch my breath and have labored breathing,” Camareno said.

In an email responding to News Channel 8’s request for clarification on the tweet, Redfern directed us to another tweet he sent Friday.

“Let’s circle back. Conflating ‘long covid’ to every possible impact of COVID-19… muddies the waters. It gets in the way of actual research that helps patients. For instance, a lung transplant due to pulmonary fibrosis isn’t ‘long covid,'” he wrote.

“You see the same thing in person after person after person,” said Dr. Kathleen Haggerty, director of the Watson Clinic’s long-haul COVID clinic in an interview last year.

Dr. Haggerty was not available to respond to Redfern’s comments Friday. However, Lakeland’s Watson Clinic confirmed there is now an eight-month waitlist to be treated.

“Most of the people that I’m seeing are not old people. These are people who have had fairly moderate courses of COVID,” Dr. Haggerty said in prior interviews.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to research post-COVID conditions.

“Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems that people experience after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19,” the CDC website on the matter reads.

While the CDC states anyone who was infected can experience post-COVID conditions, it estimates prevalence of long-haul COVID are rare. Symptoms occur at one month or longer after infection in 13.3% of cases and 2.5% of cases at three months or longer.

More information on post-COVID conditions, including a list of symptoms, is available on the CDC’s website.